Pixar, abetted by the talented Brad Bird ("The Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles"), outdistances and outdoes itself with "Ratatouille," a bizarrely eccentric, richly inventive and altogether droll piece of computer animation. Would it be redundant - or too premature - to also call it the best film of the year? So what. It is.
An affecting tale about a rat named Remy who is something of a foodie, "Ratatouille" has a plot with classic contours, as Remy - clearly a fish out of water - rescuing a business where rats are persona non grata.
A restaurant. Named Gusteau's. In Paris. France. No Less.
The most divine creation here is the acerbic, acidic food critic, wittily named Anton Ego and intoned flawlessly by Peter O'Toole. Anton is the Addison DeWitt of animated characters. You get the picture.
"Ratatouille," for all its new-age animated bravura, also exhibits an awareness of the genre's history. The sequence in which the rats prepare the crucial meal at Gusteau's is clearly a clever reference to the mice making Cinderella's dress in another Disney film from an earlier era.
(Artwork: Remy the rat and rival chefs/potential lovers Linguini and Colette are among the affable characters in Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille")
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